Friday, August 30, 2013

Impunity for creators of a yellow book

Al-Jazeera English has a good article looking at the 1993 Amnesty Law which has prevented the prosecution of war criminals from the Salvadoran civil war.   The article talks about a "Yellow Book" illustrating the involvement of the Salvadoran armed forces in death squad activity:
The new drive for justice has been fueled by the discovery of a military document called the Libro Amarillo, the 'Yellow Book' - a 254-page book produced by the Intelligence Department of the Estado Mayor Conjunto, El Salvador's military high command during the civil war. It is the first list of human targets assembled by the military high command during the war to ever be publicly revealed. 
Since it was discovered in 2010, researchers have been carefully confirming the Yellow Book's authenticity and visiting the families of those in it, so the book is only now being revealed. 
Assembled between 1978 and 1987, the book contains photographs of nearly 2,000 civilians that it identifies as "delinquent-terrorists", and details their known or suspected leftist political affiliations. 
"The majority were intellectuals, writers, journalists, professionals and union members. Some are also workers and campesinos," says Carlos Santos, a human rights activist who has been researching the book. So far, researchers have determined that about 200 people in the book were murdered and disappeared, many by death squads. 
During the war, the Salvadoran military claimed that the death squads were independent groups. But, Santos says, "the Yellow Book is evidence that the Salvadoran state violated human rights systematically in this country".

Page from "Yellow Book"

As the Al Jazeera article points out, politicians and the courts of El Salvador have shown little interest in repealing the amnesty law which was passed immediately after the UN Truth Commission report was issued in 1993.  New evidence, like the Yellow Book, has not altered the balance.   President Funes has been unwilling to seek a repeal, despite the fact that El Salvador has been ordered by the InterAmerican Court on Human Rights to annul the amnesty.   

In January, El Salvador's vice president and current FMLN presidential candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, stated that he would favor repeal of the amnesty law, but by March he had backpedaled from that position, stating that repeal of the law was a matter for the courts, not a matter for the executive or legislative branch.   On that point, he is certainly wrong, since the National Assembly passed the law, and the National Assembly can repeal the law.

Tony Saca and Norman Quijano do not favor repeal of the amnesty.

No comments: